Today we’re going to explore some of the inner motivations, desires, and emotions of the eight introverted Myers-Briggs® personality types. What’s really going on under the surface for them? Many people think they know them, but few often do. Let’s begin!
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The Secret You Didn’t Know About Each Introverted Myers-Briggs® Personality Type
The INFP Secret World
INFPs tend to have a rich, imaginative inner world full of complex storylines, possibilities, and images. The fact that INFPs are imaginative is no secret, but many people fail to realize the depth and nuance of their imagination. Building Blocks of Personality states that “Their aim is an internal life that is Utopian and not defined or limited by the realities of the physical world, such as human nature or the laws of physics.” INFPs have a dominant mental process called Introverted Feeling. This process is constantly sorting out what’s important to one’s self, what matters, what is significant. But, according to Carl Jung, it is also “Continually seeking an image which has no existence in reality, but which it has seen in a kind of vision. It glides unheedingly over all objects that do not fit in with its aim.” The passion and depth of the INFP can often only be guessed; on the outside, INFPs seem calm and difficult-to-read. Ask an INFP what they’ve been imagining lately and you might be surprised by how complex and detailed their inner world really is!
Read This Next: 7 Things That INFPs Experience as Children
The INTP Secret World
While feeling misunderstood is often attributed to INFPs or INFJs, it’s actually INTPs who often feel the most severely underestimated. These types take analysis and theory to a deep, probing level. Carl Jung said of the INTP, “He is strongly influenced by ideas, though his ideas have their origin not in objective data but in his subjective foundation. He will follow his ideas like the extravert but in the reverse direction: inwards and not outwards. Intensity is his aim, not extensity.”
INTPs don’t care as much about authority, statistics, and what’s already known as much as they care about the idea, the theory, the unproven, the truth still waiting to be discovered. Jung says, “Casual acquaintances think him inconsiderate and domineering. But the better one knows him, the more favorable one’s judgment becomes, and his closest friends value his intimacy very highly.” INTPs explore the depths of accuracy and truth, turning over facts, traditions, and conventions. Their goal is to figure out how everything connects, where there are inconsistencies, where there is truth or lack thereof. But because the INTP cares less for outer validation and achievement than inner discovery they are often seen as wasting their time, procrastinating, or failing to present their ideas in a compelling way. Their intelligence, ambition, and capability are often underestimated because they are skeptical of authority and “empirical” wisdom. In fact, Albert Einstein (an INTP) exemplifies this in these quotes: “Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth.” And, “Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.”
Read This Next: 10 Things That Excite the INTP Personality Type
The INFJ Secret World
INFJs usually seem warm and accommodating on the outside. They are frequently praised for their people-skills and their empathy. But what did Carl Jung, the founder of psychological type, have to say about INFJs?
“Naturally the intensification of intuition often results in an extraordinary aloofness of the individual from tangible reality; he may even become a complete enigma to his immediate circle. If he is an artist, he reveals strange far-off things in his art, shimmering in all colours, at once portentous and banal, beautiful and grotesque, sublime and whimsical. If not an artist, he is frequently a misunderstood genius, a great man “gone wrong”, a sort of wise simpleton, a figure for “psychological” novels.” – Carl Jung, Psychological Types
Jung, from whose work the MBTI® was derived, consistently describes INFJs (and INTJs) as secretive and without personal warmth. While popular articles tend to describe INFJs as empaths, counselors, and guides, Jung says, “Their main activity is directed inwards, nothing is outwardly visible but reserve, secretiveness, lack of sympathy, uncertainty, and an apparently groundless embarrassment.” Where is the kind, graceful empath in Jung’s writings?
Psychologically healthy INFJs have developed their secondary feeling function enough that they can sense the emotional needs of the people around them. They want to maintain harmony and experience unity and positive morale in their environment. But inwardly INFJs can be much more detached than they appear. Their “flow state” results from dwelling on images of future changes, transformations, and possibilities. They have to walk a delicate balance between exploring ideas and reaching out to people to bring those ideas to fruition. If they repress their feeling function then, as type experts Linda Berens and Dario Nardi say, “They may be so tied to symbolic, archetypal, or mysterious meanings that they lose touch with the common person. Then others perceive them as too far “out there” to be taken seriously, and they get discouraged as no one listens.” – Understanding Yourself and Others, An Introduction to the Personality Type Code
INFJs can be intensely caring and devoted individuals, but they often have to balance precariously between exploring the inner world of ideas and abstract possibilities and reaching out to others so that they can stay in touch with what’s real and make an actual difference in the world.
Read This Next: 10 Fictional Characters You’ll Relate to if You’re an INFJ
The INTJ Secret World
Often called “Masterminds” and “Strategists”, INTJs like to keep their minds engaged with innovative ideas and unique perspectives. What few people truly understand about INTJs is just how much they are drawn to complexity and how much they hate focusing on the simplistic. In fact, according to the MBTI® Manual, INTJs ranked lowest of all the types in liking work environments characterized by “Making the job as simple as possible.” These types detest having to focus on mundane, surface-level conversation or activity. Like an onion with many layers, INTJs like to peel back the underlying connections behind everything that happens, exploring meaning, purpose, and predicting trends and implications. INTJs can do mundane things if their minds are free to wander to a fascinating mental territory, but having to THINK about mundane things drives them crazy. Being around people who ask tedious, boring questions will exasperate an INTJ. Listening and having to respond to the humdrum, day-to-day conversation makes them restless and impatient. If you want to win an INTJ over, give them something to mentally toy with and explore. Leave the small talk at home.
Read This Next: 3 Weird and Wonderful Secrets About the INTJ
The ISFP Secret World
Something unique about ISFPs is that they tend to waver between the sensing and intuitive realms with more adeptness than many other personality types. If you look at the ISFP function stack you can get some sort of idea why:
ISFP Function Stack:
Dominant Function: Introverted Feeling (Fi)
Auxiliary Function: Extraverted Sensing (Se)
Tertiary Function: Introverted Intuition (Ni)
Inferior Function: Extraverted Thinking (Te)
ISFPs process the world around them through their extraverted functions, sensing and thinking. They see what exists, what is factual, and the current context (Se) and they try to organize it for maximum effectiveness (Te). Inwardly they analyze and organize their subjective values and morals (Fi) and process abstract insights, patterns, and predictions (Ni). Because sensing and intuition are both the middle-functions for ISFPs they can cycle between the two with relative ease in many situations. In fact, as an MBTI® practitioner, most of the ISFPs I’ve worked with initially typed as INFJs because online tests tend to register their intuition!
The ISTP Secret World
ISTPs tend to hide their feelings behind a reserved, often stoic expression. As thinking-dominant personality types, you’ll see more of their problem-solving abilities than their personal feelings about things. However, ISTPs deeply care about people and can be surprisingly sensitive to the feelings and reactions of the ones they love. Their inferior function, Extraverted Feeling, is constantly picking up on emotional cues, but because this is the ISTP’s weakest conscious function, they can struggle to know what to do with those cues. Trying to navigate social expectations and emotional territory can feel overwhelming to ISTPs who like to focus on systems analysis, how things work, and logical territory. When they inadvertently hurt someone’s feelings or make a social faux pas it actually can embarrass them more than people realize.
“While they want to know the right words to say to make people feel comfortable or to influence them, they often feel they aren’t as skilled as this as they would like to be….When younger, they can be quite vexed by what they see as illogical emotional behavior from others, making relationships difficult to navigate.”
– Linda Berens and Dario Nardi, Understanding Yourself and Others – An Introduction to the Personality Type Code
The ISFJ Secret World
In the type community ISFJs are often revered for their ability to emotionally and physically care for others. They are often called the “nurturers” or the “defenders”. But one thing that many people fail to realize about ISFJs is that they actually can fluctuate between feeling and thinking quite easily. The reason for this can be seen in their function stack. You can see this below:
The two middle functions in anyone’s function stack tend to be relatively close in strength. ISFJs prioritize feeling over thinking when they have to make a decision that impacts people, but in their own life, they often prioritize thinking, because this is their first subjective decision-making function. They enjoy learning about theories, models, and frameworks and can get a sense of joy from troubleshooting or solving brain teasers. They like clarity and don’t mind researching and poring over information to discover new facts or truths they didn’t know before. This side of themselves isn’t always immediately obvious because from outside perspectives ISFJs tend to seem more focused on emotional support than impersonal analysis, but in their own private time, ISFJs can get great joy from sorting out data, solving problems, and researching.
Read This Next: In-Depth ISFJ Personality Profile
ISTJs are known for being detail-oriented, logical, and somewhat reserved. But one thing that many people may not realize about ISTJs is that their detachment from emotion is often an act of consideration and responsibility. ISTJs tend to show concern and dedication to people by outlining plans for them, solving problems, and structuring ideas in an easy-to-follow format so that people’s lives can be more effective. They want to help people reach their goals and avoid obstacles. By keeping their emotions about of the picture, they hope that they can be as focused and fair as possible. They don’t want their feelings to get in the way of their ability to solve a problem or be responsible with their tasks. By staying objective, they strive to notice when something isn’t working right, take apart problems for people, and find solutions. Through compartmentalization and objective analysis they hope to be better caretakers for their loved ones. This is important to be aware of because many people misconstrue their reservedness and logical nature as uncaring or unfeeling when it is usually anything but that.
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